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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Mercy or tender compassion (chesed in the Hebrew of the Old Testament) is God’s most distinctive characteristic. St. Augustine reminded us that we are, by our very nature, ordered to God. But since God is tender mercy, “having” God is tantamount to exercising compassion, being merciful ourselves.

And attend to what Jesus says next: “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you.” According to the “physics” of the spiritual order, the more one draws on the divine life, the more one receives that life, precisely because it is a gift and is properly infinite. God’s life is had, as it were, on the fly: when you receive it as a gift, you must give it away, since it only exists in gift form, and then you will find more of it flooding into your heart.

If you want to be happy, Jesus is saying, this divine love, this chesed of God, must be central to your life; it must be your beginning, your middle, and your end.